Champaign debate team makes inspired showing in Chicago

CHAMPAIGN – Here's how the movie went: Denzel Washington plays a professor who forms a debate team at his Texas college in 1935. It's the Jim Crow era, and the team of black students is the first to debate teams from white colleges. They go on to challenge Harvard University for the national championship.

Catlin school board cuts $350,000 from district's budget

CATLIN – School officials, anticipating a significant reduction in state funding to the district, eliminated the pre-school and agriculture programs this week as part of $350,000 in cuts to the district's budget.

Superintendent Gary Lewis said the cuts were made due to an expected drop in the level of state aid to the district, and the uncertainty of payments already from the state.

"This is not something any of us wanted to do," Lewis said.

School officials adopted a $5.03 million budget for the 2009-10 school year.

Urbana school board to vote on cuts at rare Sunday meeting

URBANA – The Urbana school board is expected to vote on $2 million in cuts to next year's budget at a special meeting this weekend.

But first, board members will revisit several items on the list of possible cuts.

The board plans to meet at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Burkholder Administrative Service Center, 205 N. Race St., U.

Ikenberry touts benefits of 'accelerated program'

CHAMPAIGN – A shorter college career could save money for students, families and the University of Illinois itself, the interim president said Wednesday.

Stanley Ikenberry told the UI Board of Trustees an "accelerated program" that could be in place for fall 2011 would raise revenue for the university while cutting tuition and letting students enter the work force earlier.

Urbana school board focuses budget cuts on trims, not eliminations

URBANA – As Urbana school board members pored over possible cuts Tuesday to trim another $700,000 from next year's budget, they suggested cutting back several programs, rather than eliminating them altogether.

"We have significant dollars left to cut," said school board member Steve Summers. "I am afraid to get to the number we are looking at, we have to either wholesale cut some programs or spread some of the suffering across the whole district if we are going to save some pieces."

UI's budget teams eye Graduate College, small units for cuts

URBANA – A second round of budget-review teams will examine for possible savings the University of Illinois Graduate College, small units on campus and programs that support teaching.

One panel will also look at how the campus can generate new sources of money – possibly through more out-of-state students or online learning – to cope with a half-billion-dollar state funding backlog and potential budget cuts down the road.

UI's new ethics committee meets for first time

CHAMPAIGN – The investigation of admissions abuses at the University of Illinois last summer led to reforms in admissions procedures, resignations of the UI president and chancellor and a revamped board of trustees.

The state commission that investigated the "Category I" list – politically connected applicants who received special consideration and were sometimes admitted ahead of more qualified candidates – also suggested changes in board governance and ethics training to prevent abuses from recurring.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm board cuts $600,000 from budget

GEORGETOWN — School officials cut $604,000 in staff, programs and materials from the upcoming school year on Monday in an effort to prepare for a drop in state funding.

Superintendent Greg Irwin said he was preparing for a $620,000 reduction in general state aid next year — a “worst-case scenario” that he said was entirely possible.

According to Irwin, from July 1, 2009 to Jan. 31, 2010, the state has fallen behind $351,858 in payments to the district. The state also still owes the district about $500,000 from the previous fiscal year.

Champaign school board cuts jobs, other expenses

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board on Monday night approved cutting the equivalent of four full-time high school teachers next year – two at Central and two at Centennial High School – in addition to other jobs and expenses.

The goal of the district for making budget cuts for next year was to keep the cuts as far from the classroom as possible, said board member Sue Grey.

Beautification agency seeks applicants for community projects

DANVILLE – Keep Vermilion County Beautiful is accepting applications for community beautification grants.

"At this point, we don't know exactly how much money will be available, until we see the results of our raffle April 24th," said Lynn Wolgamot, volunteer director of Keep Vermilion County Beautiful, in a news release.

But now is the time to organize ideas and finalize plans to submit for consideration by the grant committee, she added.